After John Skelton's Injury, Can Cardinals Really Rely on Kevin Kolb?

Shaun Church@@NFLChurchContributor ISeptember 9, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09:  (L-R) Quarterbacks Kevin Kolb #4 and John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals run out onto the field before their season opener against the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 9, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback John Skelton left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury after being hit by a defender.

According to Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated, the ankle is not broken and is being treated as a high ankle sprain.

It is unknown at this point how long the recovery process will last, but should Skelton miss any games (and there is no reason to believe he won’t), backup Kevin Kolb will start in his place.

That begs the question on everyone’s mind: Can Arizona rely on Kolb?

His list of injuries since being acquired by the Cardinals is longer than his list of offensive triumphs; he stands strong in a pocket as well as a cat stays calm when backed into a corner, and his hardships in Arizona are well documented.

And yet in relief of Skelton Sunday, Kolb looked poised in the pocket, completing 6-of-8 passes for 66 yards on his lone drive. The drive concluded when he found wide receiver Andre Roberts on an out-route for a six-yard score, putting Arizona up for good, 20-16.


What does that mean?

When looking deeper at the game-winning drive by Kolb, the offensive line—which played horribly throughout the third quarter—was suddenly top notch again (as it was in the first half).

No longer was left tackle D’Anthony Batiste getting blown off the ball by Chris Clemons, Seattle’s right defensive end.

How was Batiste better with Kolb in the game?

He wasn’t, really. Batiste was left on an island with Clemons for just over three quarters. He played well for two of those quarters, but Clemons figured out the new left tackle can be easily beaten with an inside move, and that’s all it took for him to put pressure on Skelton.

It took the Cardinals’ coaching staff an entire quarter to figure that out. Once Kolb entered, Batiste began receiving help from left guard Daryn Colledge and the host of running backs Arizona used.

The pocket was clean while Kolb finished Skelton’s drive.

Kolb’s inability to remain in the pocket when protection does break down is problematic no matter how good he is throughout a game. It gets him hurt, and the longer his receivers run around the field trying to get open, the more chance they have at getting injured as well.

Back to the question: Can the Arizona Cardinals rely on Kevin Kolb while Skelton is out?

In short: no.

One successful drive in relief of Skelton doesn’t mean much. Sure, as Darren Urban of wrote following the victory, it’s a feel-good story everyone can enjoy.

Even Arizona’s defenders wanted to talk about it. Per Urban, all safety Adrian Wilson wanted to talk about was Kolb’s drive. Not the game-saving goal line stand from his defense, but Kolb’s touchdown drive.

I want to talk about Kevin Kolb. I want to talk about how poetic that was. […] To go through what (Kevin) has been through and to have his opportunity and his chance to step up, he did a hell of a job.

Defensive end Darnell Dockett also chimed in on Kolb: “I’m so proud of Kevin Kolb to come in and really do something a lot of people probably didn’t think he could do.”

They are impressed, clearly.

But how long will the warm, fuzzy feeling last? Not long. Just wait until Kolb feels pressure from his blind side and forces a throw on the run. We’ve all seen that movie before.